Fall Patterns Unfurl

“A lot of vagaries can introduce themselves …”

 

Sometimes a snippet heard on the radio gets stuck in my head.

That small phrase seemed to sum everything up quite nicely, thank you very much.

Almost like a little poem.

The words came, oddly, from a supply chain expert during a CBC interview about the current unpredictability in the worldwide movement of goods. It was an interesting piece, also notable for the expert pointing out that we, the consumers, have become somewhat “diabolical” in our expectations for instant wish fulfilment.

I actually laughed when he said “a lot of vagaries can introduce themselves,” just. because it elicited the mental response, “No kidding!” I’m sure he chose those words quite carefully, seeming like a very thoughtful person. No reason why a supply chain management expert can’t also have the soul of a poet.

The phrase, rolling around like a stray ball bearing in my brain, has had me thinking in various ways about the different types of uncertainty we’ve all been living with for so long.

And how tiring that can be.

And where we can look for a little relief.

In these very vagrant times, I find some comfort in the predicability of pattern.

My daily walks around my own small neighbourhood are a pattern in themselves,  repeated over the last thirty years with babies in strollers, toddlers, older kids going to school, and a succession of dogs.

And on those walks I now see the pattern of autumn unfurling like a roll of new wallpaper for the world.

The leaves are turning, berries and nuts are ripening.

Birds are returning from the north — just passing through, or settling in (like the rest of us) for a wet Vancouver winter. Just as they do every year.

One of the first returning goldfinches

Crows are doing what crows do in fall — being rowdy.

They’re always noisy, of course, but now is the time for that autumn-specific celebratory type of crow riotousness.

They gather in big groups — not just for the nightly roost, or a funeral, or in order to chase away a bird of prey — but simply to shout the odds amongst themselves. Parent crows are giddy with freedom from fledgling responsibilities, and those fledglings are now teenagers — anxious to get out into the world and find/cause trouble.

Sometimes the chaos IS the pattern.

Framing that thought in nature is comforting — although much less so when it comes to human affairs. That’s why it’s probably time for me to pick up my knitting needles and re-engross myself in that half-finished Fair Isle beret sitting in a tangle since early summer.

Just stick to the pattern and all will work out in the end, I tell myself.

Of course, I may drop a stitch or two, but at least now I’ve been reminded about those sneaky little vagaries. Maybe I’ll listen to the radio as I knit and see what I hear next …

Mavis at her customary watch on the roof — another comforting sight.

 

 

 

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Conflict Resolution

Well, I’m not sure if they did it by guile, by force, or by consulting the Office of the Housing Ombirdsman, but somehow the Northern Flickers have regained occupancy of their nest.

As you may recall, it wasn’t looking good for them in the last post, Battle of the Nest. The Starlings had moved right in and were even installing  their own furniture.  And yet, when I went by the next day, this familiar head was defiantly sticking out of the nest.

I check every time I go by and almost every time there is a  Northern Flicker sentry at the door. Mom or dad are on duty 24/7 to ward off future home invasions.

Oops, looked unguarded for a minute there, but a closer look reveals mother Flicker on the upper deck keeping an eye on things.

Still some last minute renovations going on too.

Meanwhile, what of the starlings?

I must admit I was rooting for the Northern Flickers, given that they were in the nest first and had done all the hard work of digging it out. Fair play and all, right?

It can be hard to sympathize with the starlings, and yet . . .

It’s really not the Starlings’ fault that a well meaning, homesick, but misguided English immigrant (human) released a bunch of them in Central Park, NY in 1890. His goal was to eventually introduce every bird mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare to North America, but the starling was his great “success.” A great example of “be careful what you wish for.”

Neither is it their fault that they’re tough and adaptable birds so that now there are many millions of them in North America, competing with native birds for habitat, food and nest sites.

A few other things in defence of the Starling:

  • If you still really think you can’t appreciate starlings (and remember, a lot of people felt that way about crows until quite recently . . . ) I really recommend reading Mozart’s Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt.

So . . . what happened to the Starling invaders of the Flicker nest? Well, it seems they just moved one tree over and took over the tree cavity that was used by Flickers for the 2017 nesting season (recorded in Flicker Family Saga Part One and Part Two. ) It’s been vacant since then, so they moved in without any drama and everyone seems to be getting along for the time being.

Just to be on the safe side, the male Flicker makes regular and  emphatic pronouncements regarding property and tenancy rights.